Archer Wins In Manila

Johnny Archer

Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer continued his amazing run of tournament victories by beating hometown favorite Francisco “Django” Bustamante 13-10 to pocket the top prize of $20,000 in the LG Flatron “On Cue 2” 9-ball tournament at the Robinson's Galeria shopping mall along busy Ortigas Avenue in Metro Manila.

Archer who had earlier won three tournaments in succession in the US wrapped up his seventh win this year with a masterful display of pool. From the moment he won the lag Archer was in front and although Bustamante tied the count at two racks apiece there was no stopping Archer. He opened up a three rack lead at 7 – 4 and although Bustamante came to within two racks on several occasions, the last time at 12-10 Archer who turns 35 on November 12 finished with a flourish by ending the match with a “golden break” to win 13-10 to the applause of a highly appreciative crowd.

The end was characteristic of the entire match where Archer got the breaks with the balls rolling his way in stark contrast to Bustamante who appeared to be plagued by bad luck almost throughout the finals. It was a far cry from his flawless performance in the semi finals when he annihilated World Pool Champion Thorsten Hohmann 11-3.

Switching to the right side of the table for only the second time in the match for the break in the 23rd rack, Archer amazingly got the 1-ball to drop into the side pocket for the very first time and jumped up in delight as the 6-ball kissed the 9 and gently rolled it into the corner pocket at the top of the table to complete his triumph.

With his victory, Archer reasserted his superiority over Bustamante in this tournament since he had beaten the 39 year old Filipino ace comfortably in the elimination round 7-3. Luck was clearly on the side of the likeable Archer who may carry the fearsome nickname “Scorpion” but has absolutely no sting except when at the table and has endeared himself to the fans who he conceded may get tough on him but love him.

It was Archer's first win in several tournaments in Manila and gave him the confidence needed to battle the world's best in the Tokyo 9-Ball Championship next week.

Prior to the match Archer conceded he had a chance to win, “provided Django doesn't break well.” He was right. Bustamante hardly resorted to his awesome power break and although the soft break worked, he seldom got good position on the table which was just the opposite in the case of Archer who always seemed to have a chance of running out after his break.

Bustamante's first big mistake came on his break in rack No. 5. Down 3-2 he had a chance to draw even but scratched on the break when the cue ball nudged the 6 and dropped in. Archer unexpectedly switched to the right side of the table on his break and also scratched enabling Bustamante to pull one back with a fairly elementary 1-9 combination to make it 4-3.

A foul by Bustamante when the balls failed to hit the rail gave Archer an opening which he grabbed in a hurry via a 2-9 combo to move ahead 5-3. Bustamante executed a classic bank shot on the 1-ball which was smack against the rail to put pressure on Archer at 5-4 but the cool and composed American star eased out in front 8-5 with some solid pool.

A terrific exchange of safeties ended with Bustamante fouling. Archer with ball in hand ran out with a superb shot in the end to make it 9-6 before Bustamante broke and ran out one more time to make it 9-7. After Archer pocket the 4-ball on the break he put Bustamante in a bind with a great safety on the 1-ball but the Filipino whiz produced a marvelous jump shot over two balls that were in the way and then followed with an exquisite safety. Archer rose to the challenge and with an incredible bank shot on the 2, smiled as he took the rack to go up 10- 7.

The pressure was clearly telling on Bustamante who appeared distraught at the way the balls were rolling and he scratched on the break and Archer put more distance between them 11-7. After Archer committed a deliberate foul Bustamante played a second safety behind five balls that were bunched together forcing Archer to commit a second deliberate foul. The battle of attrition eventually went Bustamante's way. A great bank shot on the 3 followed by a 6-8 combination followed by another excellent shot on the 6-ball gave the fans some hope especially after Bustamante broke and ran out the next rack to make it 11-9.

Another exchange of safeties ended with a sorry miss by Bustamante and Archer eased out in front 12-9. Bustamante, in a desperate situation,still had enough in him to pull one back 12-10 but Archer was not to be denied and ended another remarkable performance with a golden break to deservedly win this top class tournament. World Pool Champion Thorsten Hohmann salvaged some pride by beating Canada-based Filipino Alex Pagulayan in the battle for third but Pagulayan who left the Philippines some ten years ago won the hearts of the fans with a fun-loaded trick shot exhibition and his warm and friendly manner.

In a post match interview Archer said “ I played really confident this time and I have been playing well coming into this tournament and momentum was on my side. God was on my side and I thank God. I am very pleased the way I've played. I've played well all year. I worked hard to get here and I am just really happy that Mr. Aristeo “Putch” Puyat of Puyat Sports invited me here. I can't wait to come back.”

Archer said he was a little worried when Bustamante cut the lead to 12-10 right there at the end. “He only needed three games and I had to break. If somehow I didn't win my break he could make it 12-11 and he's breaking. I knew I hadn't got it. I wanted to concentrate solid on that break there and I knew I would have one more break in case he won but I still didn't want it to come down to 12-12 on my break because anything could happen. I had to concentrate solid and I did.”

He said “its not that easy to play before your hometown fans, family and friends” and Bustamante “played well and deserved to be where he was.”

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe